It is common to drink a large glass of water or a flavored energy drink for post-workout replenishment, but drinking iced drinks can have negative effects on the body if they are consumed in great quantities.
Effects of Iced Drinks after a Workout
Gulping down too much iced water after a strenuous workout can have the adverse consequence of increasing urine output, which may in turn deplete your body of potassium and sodium. Consuming an energy drink or a beverage designed to replace these nutrients can help you to maintain the proper balance of these two electrolytes. In addition, consuming too much ice water can cause stomach cramps, especially post-workout when your body is fatigued and in need of replacement electrolytes.
Iced Isn't the Same as Cool
Loading a drink up with ice and getting it straight from the freezer is quite different from tossing a few ice cubes into a glass of water to reduce the temperature a few degrees. Drinking cool water is generally helpful and will lead to few if any side effects. It can aid in bringing your temperature down after a workout when your core temperature tends to increase.
General wisdom suggests that if the temperature of the water is too cold and your body is too hot, the introduction of that cold beverage to your system may result in stomach cramps. A good rule of thumb to avoid post-workout cramps is the hotter your workout, the warmer your beverage should be so as to reduce the difference in your body's temperature versus what you drink.
If You Must Use Ice, Don't Overdo It
While ice water consumed after a workout may not cause any immediate discomfort if consumed in proper amounts, there is the issue of over-hydrating to consider. Gulping down a giant bottle of ice water after a grueling two hour workout might sound delicious, but iced drinks can overstimulate your sense of taste and cause you to drink far more than is necessary to properly rehydrate.
Drinking too much post-workout can lead to hyponatremia, which is low blood sodium that can cause severe health issues. Although it was once popular to suggest endurance athletes consume large amounts of fluids to replace what they'd lost, many scientists and trainers now advocate the simple idea of drinking until your thirst is quenched, rather than forcing yourself to drink a certain amount.
Ideal Post-Workout Strategy
Recent studies have suggested that a good alternative to iced sports drinks is milk, since the high quality carbohydrates and protein in milk can aid in replacing the energy that you've burned off. The milk doesn't need to be straight out of the freezer. A normal glass of milk, ice-cube-free, will do the job just fine and should allow you to stay cramp-free.
In addition to paying attention to how your body feels and how thirsty you are after a workout, consider adding an extra glass of water to your daily intake a few hours before you go to the gym or hit the pavement. Being well hydrated before your workout can aid greatly in keeping your body feeling great during the exercise, and may allow you to require less hydration once your workout is complete.